Finian's Oscar ready for hurdling switch at Cheltenham

Wed 24 Jan 2018
Finians Oscar - Sandown - Tolworth Hurdle Finian's Oscar has been running over fences this season (PA)

By staff

Finian's Oscar is firmly on track to revert to hurdling at Cheltenham on Saturday.

The Grade One-winning six-year-old has been beaten on his last two starts over fences, with his bravery for chasing having been questioned by trainer Colin Tizzard.

Finian's Oscar will now return to a discipline that has served him so well when he lines up in the Cleeve Hurdle - with the end goal of running in the Stayers' Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.

Joe Tizzard, the Dorset trainer's son and assistant, said on Wednesday: "He's in real good form and runs in the Cleeve on Saturday.

"He hasn't really done a lot wrong over fences, but he's a young horse and there will be plenty of time to go back chasing with him.

"We've had a hell of a lot of rain (on Wednesday), but it's meant to dry up a bit so you'd hope the ground will be fine by the weekend."

Apple's Shakira will take the next step along the ladder when she runs in the JCB Triumph Trial Juvenile Hurdle.

Nicky Henderson's filly is already favourite for the Triumph Hurdle at the Festival in March after winning twice at the track in the manner of a really smart individual.

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She will now attempt to claim a second Grade Two triumph of her short career, in a race in which she will receive weight from all of her rivals.

Frank Berry, racing manager for Apple's Shakira's owner JP McManus, said: "She's in good form and the plan is to go to Cheltenham on Saturday.

"She's a very nice filly and hopefully she'll go well again."

Paul Henderson believes a recent run over hurdles will put Doitforthevillage spot on for the £75,000 Crest Nicholson Handicap Chase.

The nine-year-old, allotted 10st 8lb for the extended two and a half-mile contest, landed the BetVictor Handicap Chase over two miles at Cheltenham's November Meeting by two lengths and finished a creditable fourth back over hurdles at Newbury this month.

Hampshire-based Henderson said today: "Doitforthevillage seems all right in himself. I am going to work him tomorrow to make sure he is OK before deciding whether he runs at Cheltenham on Saturday.

"He had an injury prior to his latest run. He had an infection in his hind leg so that's why I ran him over hurdles at Newbury just to get a run into him.

"He seemed to blow up at Newbury, but I'm pleased with him and I'll just give him a gallop tomorrow to make sure that he is in top form.

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"He enjoys Cheltenham and conditions seem to be in his favour. Me and Paddy (Brennan, jockey) have discussed his ideal trip. Paddy thinks he will get a bit further so that's why we are running over two and a half miles.

"I think he's an out and out two-miler, but Paddy is quite confident he will get the trip. Two and a half miles is a little bit of a concern to me as he does seem to travel sweeter over two miles, but Paddy is pretty bullish.”

A superb seven-race programme is headlined by the £100,000 Grade Two BetBright Trial Cotswold Chase, a leading trial for the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup at The Festival.

Bristol De Mai, a decisive winner of the G1 Betfair Chase at Haydock, bids to get back on track after a disappointing effort in the King George VI Chase on Boxing Day.

Many clouds Many Clouds will be fondly remembered on Saturday (PA)

Many Clouds won last year’s renewal by a headfrom Thistlecrack before sadly passing away.

He will be remembered at Cheltenham on Trials Day with the screening of the film Many Clouds - The People's Horse.

It was produced by Equine Productions and directed by Nathan Horrocks, who rode Many Clouds in his work at home.

Horrocks, who picked up award for best director at the prestigious EQUUS Film Festival in New York, will feature in Q&A sessions alongside Oliver Sherwood, trainer of Many Clouds.

The two sessions will take place in the winner's enclosure at 12.05pm and 2.05pm. Racegoers will be able to submit questions to Horrocks and Sherwood via Cheltenham's Twitter account @CheltenhamRaces.

Following the running of the last race at 4.10pm, Many Clouds - The People's Horse will be shown on TV screens across the racecourse.

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